When I Was 5, I Tried To Make My Own Perfume Out Of Laundry Detergent

Clearly, I was pretty precocious.
Publish date:
August 3, 2012
perfume, Clean, clean laundry

Whenever I went missing as a child (which was pretty regularly; I’m a Scorpio who loves a little me-time), my mommy knew she could find me in one of two places -- occasionally in her closet clad in fur, slinky slip dresses and costume jewelry, but more often than not, in the laundry room sniffing Tide.

It smelled so fucking good; it was my first full-blown addiction. (Well, that and Fraggle Rock.)

See, the laundry room has always been -- and will always be -- my favorite room of any house. There’s just something so comforting yet deliriously intoxicating about the scent of clean clothes fresh from the dryer. I even used to sit in the laundry basket and let my dad drop hot, fresh-from-the-dryer laundry on top of me. Kind of weird, but it was our thing and it was orgasmic. (But not in a creepy way.)

One summer I decided that I must -- MUST -- smell like laundry all day, every day, so I set out to make that happen. I was 5. Here’s how it all went down.

Although I was raised in Atlanta, whenever I was out of school my parents would ship me off to my paternal grandparents' house in Gastonia, North Carolina (a cool ass sleepy town right outside of Charlotte). Other than the laundry room, their house was my favorite place to be, because my grandmother’s closet -- and perfume collection -- was even more awesome than my mommy’s.

After we’d watched my Nan’s favorite "stories" one day (Young & The Restless, Bold & The Beautiful, As The World Turns, and Guiding Light), I headed off to my special place to sniff my special sauce, and she joined me. There, we sat on the floor and got to talking about why I loved that particular smell so much; she told me that one day when I grow up, I could become a chemist and create a perfume that actually smelled like laundry detergent. I called bullshit and brazenly told her I was old enough to make one right now. She laughed, but agreed.

We grabbed a laundry bucket, an assload of water, a mixing spoon, and a few cups of Tide, and I mixed, and mixed, and mixed until I’d produced a milky substance that smelled like clean clouds in heaven. She was amused by my gumption and delight; I was terribly proud. I splashed it all over my face, dabbed it on my neck and wrists (just like I’d seen my mommy and grandmother do with their perfumes), cupped it in my hands and let it fall all over my arms and legs, laid back and made perfume-water angels… It was one of the best days ever.

That is, until I’d scratched my skin off and was admitted to the hospital three days later. That part was dreadful, but cotdammit I was still hella proud of my creation. (To be fair, my Nan originally told me NOT to do this, but rather than fight with a feisty 5-year-old, she decided to let me have my fun and learn this valuable lesson on my own.)

Fast-forward 20+ years, I found a fragrance that perfectly mimics the scent of Tide, but drowning dousing yourself in it doesn’t end in emergency visits to the ER. If you’re as obsessed with the scent of fresh laundry as I am, do yourself a fucking favor fast and treat yoself to a bottle of CLEAN Warm Cotton ASAP.

I say ASAP because I buy it in bulk and often it’s sold out -- likely because of me. I LOVE this shit and I’d sell a box of stolen babies for a half-used bottle. In fact, you should probably know this: If I ever catch you holding a bottle at Sephora or Ulta, I’ll two-piece you MMA-style and smack it out of your hand. But you’ll forgive me right? I mean no harm. I told you it’s a lifelong addiction.

India-Jewel is seriously contemplating signing up for Perfume Anonymous over on Twitter at @IndiaJewelJax.